PESHAWAR: In a brazen move, Municipal Corporation Peshawar (MCP) broke locks placed by the archaeology department and parked around 50 sanitation department vehicles at Gor Ghatri, the city’s most important archaeological landmark.
An archaeology department official requesting anonymity said the incident took place two days ago, when MCP officials broke the locks on Gor Ghatri and parked at least 51 sanitation vehicles, including tankers and garbage trucks, in the area.
The official said the locks were put up on the directions of senior officials of the department, in order to prevent the historical site from being turned into a parking lot.
The vehicles were given to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Local Government and Rural Development Department last month under USAID’s Municipal Service Delivery Program.
The official claimed the municipal corporation was using the safety of these vehicles as an excuse to park them at the historical site. He conceded a public park and a Peshawar fire brigade building located inside the historical site’s walled complex were owned by the MCP. “However, even if they own some of the land, they are not entitled to park garbage trucks in a public space,” he said.
He added these trucks posed a great threat to both gates of the complex, which date back to the Mughal period. “These heavy vehicles will decrease the life of the historical gates by half or even more.”
The official also complained the MCP never even took the archaeology department into confidence when going through with the move. “They never even held a meeting with us,” he added.
Cultural Heritage Council General Secretary Shakil Wahidullah Khan also decried the move, adding it would lay a priceless historical site to waste. “First former officials of the tourism department played havoc with the site, and now the area is being turned into a junk yard for garbage trucks,” Khan alleged.
He further said the heavy weight of these vehicles would cause irreparable damage to this site, and said he feared the MCP would gradually encroach on to the land.
Khan demanded immediate action be taken against the administrator of MCP. He also requested K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, Minister for Sports, Culture, Tourism and Museums Mehmood Jan and the Peshawar High Court (PHC) chief justice to take notice of the issue. The MCP administrator could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2013.